Lawmakers Want Employers to Hire Those Who Fail Drug Test?
Lawmakers Want Employers to Hire Those Who Fail Drug Test?
Written By Kathy Valente   |   03.30.22
Reading Time: 3 minutes

With nine days left before the end of session, state lawmakers are working long days to pass a bunch of unnecessary proposals. One proposal that we are very concerned about is HB 4116, which amends the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, the bill that legalized recreational marijuana in Illinois. This bill is deceptively worded, removing most of the safeguards that currently allow employers to refuse to hire and discipline employees who tested positive for THC – the psychoactive substance in marijuana.

This bill passed the Illinois House by a vote of 61 to 41, and is now being heard in the Illinois Senate Executive Committee.

Though the bill states “nothing in this Act prohibits an employer from … implementing and enforcing workplace policies regarding the possession, use, or impairment of lawful products in the employer’s workplace during working hours or hours the individual is on call”… it must comply with the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act.” [emphasis added]

The Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act (820) ILCS 55/1 (from Ch. 48, par. 2851) states:

Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, including Section 10-50 of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, and except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this Section, it shall be unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise disadvantage any individual, with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment because the individual uses lawful products off the premises of the employer during nonworking and non-call hours. [emphasis added]

This is a double-edged sword: Recreational marijuana is lawful in Illinois and as long as employees use “lawful products” they will be exempt from workplace policies regarding possession, use, or impairment.

HB 4116 will weaken the case for an employer to be able to refuse to hire or fire someone who tests positive for THC, and making it more difficult for the employer to prove impairment. In other words, if passed, HB 4116 lowers safety thresholds and will create unsafe workplaces for Illinois families.

A law firm that takes on discrimination cases said this of Illinois law in regard to employees testing positive for THC PRIOR to the passage of HB 4116:

Can I be fired/not hired in Illinois for failing a work drug test? There is a difference of opinion about this issue. On the one hand, the Privacy in the Workplace Act says very clearly that it is “unlawful for an employer to hire or discharge” someone because they used marijuana on their own time in a way that does not impact work. But, on the other hand, the Cannabis Act says that an employer can have a policy mandating a “drug free workplace” … “This is an issue that will either be resolved in the courts or clarified by the legislature.”

Does that give you business owners a feeling of security?

Take Action: Click HERE to email your state senator. Urge him/her to oppose HB 4116 which makes it more difficult for employers to maintain a drug-free workplace.

To file a witness slip, click HERE. (Note: slips won’t be able to be filed once the committee hearing has ended. There is a very small window to file.)

-Fill out your name, address, email and phone number. Leave everything else blank or put self.
-Highlight “Opponent” and “Record of Appearance Only.”
-Check Terms of Agreement and click Create Slip.

Kathy Valente
Kathy joined the IFI team as our Director of Operations in 2008. Previously, Kathy was the state director for Concerned Women for America for 4 years. But even before that, Kathy and Dave worked together as volunteer activists battling pornography and obscenity in the public square. Kathy has consistently taken a stand for traditional Judeo-Christian values and has worked tirelessly to foster a wholesome environment for family living, advocating for high community standards. Kathy recognizes that sexual immorality, pornography, obscenity, promiscuity, state sanctioned abortion and gambling threaten the moral fabric of our society. The well being of our communities, the...
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